Jehovah’s Witnesses and Church/State Separation

Excerpts from the article:
Public reaction to Gobitis v. Minersville School District bordered on hysteria ….. Some vigilantes interpreted the Supreme Court’s decision as a signal that Jehovah’s Witnesses were traitors who might be linked to a network of Nazi spies and saboteurs. In Imperial, a town outside Pittsburgh, a mob descended on a small group of Witnesses and pummeled them mercilessly. By the end of the year, the American Civil Liberties Union estimated that 1,500 Witnesses had been assaulted in 335 separate attacks. In the wake of all the violence against Witnesses, three Supreme Court justices—William O. Douglas, Frank Murphy and Hugo Black—publicly signaled in a separate case that they thought Gobitis had been “wrongly decided.” When Barnette reached the Supreme Court in 1943, Harlan Stone, the lone dissenter in Gobitis, had risen to chief justice. The facts of the two cases mirrored each other, but the outcome differed dramatically. Most important, in ruling that Witness children could not be forced to recite the pledge. The “very purpose” of the Bill of Rights, wrote Justice Robert Jackson, was to protect some issues from the majority rule of politics. “One’s right to life, liberty and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, may not be submitted to vote….Fundamental rights depend on the outcome of no elections.”

What does “free exercise thereof” mean?

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Here is the “free exercise thereof” explained:

all religions

I am not sure it’s that simple BUT it is a cute photo.   How do we reconcile it when the religious views clash?

 

John Stuart Mill quote

Yet so natural to mankind is intolerance in whatever they really care about, that religious freedom has hardly anywhere been practically realized, except where religious indifference, which dislikes to have its peace disturbed by theological quarrels, has added its weight to the scale. In the minds of almost all religious persons, even in the most tolerant countries, the duty of toleration is admitted with tacit reserves. One person will bear with dissent in matters of church government, but not of dogma; another can tolerate everybody, short of a Papist or an Unitarian; another, every one who believes in revealed religion; a few extend their charity a little further, but stop at the belief in a God and in a future state. Wherever the sentiment of the majority is still genuine and intense, it is found to have abated little of its claim to be obeyed.

You can find the complete essay at the link:   http://www.constitution.org/jsm/liberty.htm